Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School

Backpacks ready for first day of school. Photo courtesy of Lisa Jones.For the past three days I’ve been trolling my Facebook feed admiring all of the Back to School photos posted by my friends. I love them! What a variety of faces and ages. Some students stand alone. Some with siblings. Many have bright smiles. One friend posted her twins scowling (and it was still adorable). Everyone looks a little bit older, a little bit taller. These are the moments that we mothers capture each year. One friend created a collage of her four children on the first day of kindergarten. Another has a collage of the first day for the past five years, charting the growth and maturity of her daughter.

Since my daughters attend a school with a uniform, I’m not really up to date with the latest school fashions, so I’m also interested in what these students wear for their carefully chosen “back to school” clothes. My poor daughters have dutifully tried on khaki or navy capris and pants while sighing melancholy over the sparkly jeans and bright shirts on the racks nearby.

I’m also FB friends with a number of teachers, public and private, from elementary through university. Their status reports from the last week of preparing their classrooms and curriculum for the year have been entertaining. However the night before school began, the messages turned from preparation to anticipation, ranging from excitement to nerves. One veteran teacher of 15 years, who has received a number of state and national awards, surprised me by posting she still gets nervous on the first day.

It’s hard to describe the value and impact of a good teacher on a student. We are so blessed that our school district employs some of the most generous, enthusiastic teachers. This year my older daughter came home saying that she thinks she loves her 7th grade teachers more than her 6th grade teachers, and she never dreamed that was even possible. My 4th grader spent an anxious weekend before school started fretting over the fact that she did not get the teacher she wanted. Imagine my surprise, when she came home Monday all smiles, honestly excited about the teacher she did not want. From experience, I know that this new shiny will dull from time to time, only to resparkle later. Homework (doing and grading) will become drudgery. But I love this time, this week, this excitement.

To all our teachers, present and past, thank you. Your preparation and enthusiasm is reflected in the smiles of our children. To all the parents, embrace your children, encourage them, support them, and keep posting those first day of school photos.
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